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Antonia: Milan’s Classic Purveyor of Luxe Streetwear

  • BoF Team

MILAN, Italy — Multi-brand retailer Antonia began as a women's accessories shop in Milan in 1999. The store soon built significant buzz around its eponymous founder Antonia Giacinti. The menswear store, headed up by Giacinti's partner Maurizio Purificato, was opened in 2007 down the street from the womenswear ready-to-wear store. In 2013, the two stores were combined in a palatial new residence, the Palazzo Cagnola, still on the Via Cusani. The renovated Palazzo houses an industrial and commercial store outfit, displaying a luxe streetwear buy aimed at both an Italian and international clientele. 

BoF spoke to Daniela Ilari, Antonia's marketing manager, to learn more.

BoF: Tell us about the Antonia store.

DI: Antonia began 13 years ago, with an accessories store, with very high-level brands. People believed in her, and she started buying great collections and was successful from the beginning. Now the store is based in a 17th century palazzo. The store is a one and only store; you walk through the entrance and to the left there is the womenswear and accessories, and to the right is the men's area.

The architect Vicenzo di Cotiis designed the new store that opened in 2013. The store always has to be impeccable; it has to be perfect. It is the atmosphere and the way that it is merchandised: the visual display in the store, and the mix of the brands. The top buyers from American department stores, the top multi-brand European stores, when they are here in town for the fashion shows, they come and visit us to see how our windows look. The displays really are so beautiful.

BoF: How does the Antonia DNA, which started in womenswear, translate to the men’s area?

TS: As far as the men’s buy, it is Maurizio Purificato, who is Antonia’s partner for over nine years. Antonia does not interfere with Maurizio’s decisions. The men’s consumer is very different to the women’s consumer. In the men’s it is more towards street casual, luxe brands that we carry. It is more informal. You would think that we would dress the husbands of our women’s customers, but in reality it is a different man that we dress. The relationship between Antonia and Maurizio is one of total freedom; she gets on with the women’s and he gets on with the men’s – they don’t interfere. Sometimes she may say, ‘Why don’t you add in something more tailored,’ and he says, ‘No, that is not my consumer, I know what I am doing and I know what I want.

BoF: Describe Antonia’s menswear product and brand assortment.

TS: It completely reflects Maurizio — his way of dressing, his ideal wardrobe, and his personality. We are known for our selection, our brand mix, our research into an ideal wardrobe, mixing iconic items from Japanese technology to Italian manufacturing to French designers. We try and put all of this together, and we are successful at it. In fact, we are a company with very high sellouts, and if we don’t sell out well, the brand is out.

For the men's we work with Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Balmain, and we are very strong also with the Japanese brand Sacai. It is luxe streetwear, let's put it that way, like Undercover, Attachment. On the contrary, with the sartorial it is more Thom Browne. It is just the way that Maurizio dresses, and his wardrobe.

BoF: Who is the Antonia menswear consumer?

TS: We have a national and an international customer. Our national customer is a typical Milanese customer, which is very loyal.  We have a lot of celebrities, yes, lots of young football players and also some very important Italian families that come to buy – wife and husband. The international customers, when they travel, always come and visit us and do their buying. It is a customer that has a very high culture for fashion and is very updated on what’s coming down, who the new designer is, and they come to us and they know everything about fashion. It is amazing. I mean sometimes we have to learn some things and get our act together, because these people know so much through the blogs, and through the web and dailies and monthlies, so we absolutely have to be at the same time fully updated.

BoF: Do the different consumers buy different products?

TS: Yes they do buy different products. Sometimes the Milanese is a little bit more conservative, and international [shoppers] research other kinds of products. We are very good also at launches and limited editions. It is definitely one of our strengths, with specific companies doing special items for us, both in the women's and the men's. We also ask them to design specific items for us, which no one else has. And this is a great cooperation and partnership with some of the brands. We have done it with Nike, for Riccardo Tisci [of Givenchy] and Nike – we were the only sellers apart from the Nike store, Sam Smith and loads of others.

The consumer that comes to shop in Antonia maybe feels more intimidated going to a flagship mono-brand store, they like the atmosphere, it is a casa boutiqua, which means a home store. We have customers that are here every week, and they feel at home. They like being here, they like having a chat with Maurizio, they have a chat with Antonia, or our staff, they just like it and they feel at home. It is a homely atmosphere, it is a lively atmosphere — the music, the fragrance… it has all been thought about. People like coming here. They like shopping at Antonia. This is the reality. The standard of our staff is very high, from their look, their uniforms, and the way they approach the customer — it reflects Antonia. We receive many, many compliments on our staff, and this is how Antonia and Maurizio expect it to be. Business is healthy.

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